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6 - Religious Toleration and Christian Irenicism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 September 2020

Diego Lucci
Affiliation:
American University in Bulgaria
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Summary

Locke’s doctrine of the fundamentals has important irenic implications. His omission of disputed doctrines from his account of Christianity implies toleration of all those accepting the Law of Faith. Moreover, his theological writings do not describe affiliation to a church as essential to salvation. This position implicitly makes denominationally uncommitted Christians tolerable. This is a step beyond the mere separation between the state and religious societies, which Locke affirmed in his “letters” on toleration. However, Locke argued that acceptance of the Law of Faith could lead not only to salvation, but also to properly comprehend and observe the divine law. This position is problematic, since Locke avoided extending toleration from competing conceptions of salvation to competing conceptions of the good. But, to Locke, those who believe in God, although rejecting the Law of Faith, are tolerable, because they acknowledge the divinely given Law of Nature and, thus, can meet at least minimally decent moral standards. This is why he did not exclude non-Christian believers from toleration, while he was intolerant of atheists and censured the immoral ideas held by Roman Catholics.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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